New research by researchers at the University of Melbourne and the University at Albany has shown that despite claims to the contrary, people in some parts of the world are not being vaccinated.
The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that a significant proportion of the population was not being exposed to the virus in their locales and was therefore at a higher risk of catching the disease, and that the vaccine uptake had actually declined.
“There is a big gap between what we’ve seen in terms of the coverage and uptake of the vaccine,” Dr Michael Henshaw, one of the lead authors of the study, told the ABC.
“We’ve seen some positive coverage and the uptake of vaccines for children and adults, but we’ve also seen a drop in the uptake for pregnant women.”
Dr Henshaws study is based on data from more than 8,000 people who have been asked to provide details of their health and vaccination history.
“In the first round, we’ve asked people if they were vaccinated, if they had received a vaccination, if there was a risk of a negative reaction, and we’ve been able to measure whether that risk has changed since then,” he said.
“If you’re a mother, or you’re in a family where your children have received a vaccine, we can actually measure the impact of that vaccination.”
Dr. Hensham said the results of his study indicated that it was important to provide information on vaccination status to people, particularly pregnant women.
“You’re asking people to share their vaccination history, and then you’re also asking them to share it with the healthcare professionals who are doing their job, who are also monitoring the vaccination uptake in those areas, and they’re going to be asking those questions,” he explained.
“So, you’re going through the process of a very good social-health model that’s working in a very real-world context.”
Dr John McConville, the president of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), said that while some people had been vaccinated in their communities, it was a very small proportion of people.
“The data that we’ve got indicates that around 40 per cent of Australians have been vaccinated, and so we know that a lot of people are in fact being vaccinated but not getting the full benefit of it,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“When you see the data and you see people who are not vaccinating and those are people who would be vaccinated if they’d received the full dose of the virus, it just tells you that there is a significant amount of people out there who are getting vaccinated, but who are being exposed.”
Dr McConlange said that a number of factors, including people not being adequately vaccinated, a lack of access to health care and inadequate education about the vaccine could also play a role in why people were not getting fully vaccinated.
Dr Hinshaw said there was currently no vaccine available to people who were not in their early 20s and over, and therefore the risk of contracting the virus was likely to increase.
“It’s a huge problem that we’re going into the next two to three years, so we’re really just looking at a very low probability of getting the vaccine if you’re not in your early 20ies,” he added.